The NLEX Road Warriors were not pleased with the physical play of Meralco’s hulking reinforcement
Alex Stepheson is big — really big. Standing at 6-foot-10 and weighing 249 pounds, the 29-year-old Californian dwarfs the majority of the league. His build, on the other hand, is perfectly suited for a bruiser.
Sunday evening, the NLEX Road Warriors saw first hand how difficult it is to stop Stepheson, who finished the game with 18 points and 24 rebounds. The 91-84 loss did not irk the Road Warriors as much as how physical the former USC Trojan got with some of the Road Warriors.
During the first half of the game, Bradwyn Guinto, a barrel-chested big man himself, was caught by an inadvertent elbow from Stepheson. No flagrant foul was called, but it resulted in a black eye for the Filipino-Australian.
Later on in the game, with six minutes and 30 seconds remaining, the American reinforcement figured in another incident. After diving for a loose ball together with NLEX’s Eric Camson, Stepheson was able to gain possession of the ball but was struck by former Adamson Soaring Falcon in the face, who was lying down beside him. That play resulted in a flagrant foul being called on Camson, and in expletives from coach Yeng Guiao.
“Bradwyn Guinto had a black eye because he [Stepheson] elbowed him, and it was a flagrant, and they cancelled it and said that there was no foul — but he has a black eye!
“So it’s something that will happen in the heat of the game, but they never heard anything from Brad. Hindi naman nag-reklamo si Brad, na-black-eye-an siya,” criticized Guiao, who is known to speak his mind.
“[Yung nangyari kay Camson] Wala namang nangyari kay Stepheson eh, tapos siya yung naghahamon ng away, so wala naman yun.”
For Stepheson, he admitted that he is a physical player, but that’s just the way he is. And it’s nothing personal for him.
“It’s physical, I mean, I like it though.
“I got hit with a slap to the face, I don’t take it personal. I was upset at the moment but that’s basketball, it happens. I get hit, sometimes I hit people. I dish it out so I can take it, it’s nothing personal — just physical ball. I like it,” he added.
Regarding what Guiao hurled at him, he believes that it’s all part of the game.
“I really didn’t hear what he [coach Yeng] said, I just said what I had to say and walked away,” he reflected.
“Basketball is an aggressive sport, a bunch of alpha males out there competing. People say stuff, things happen and it’s over now so it’s back to playing ball.”
With his style of play, the PBA should expect more physicality from Stepheson — the one thing Meralco lacked during the Philippine Cup.